I enjoyed the Intercol Musical production of Little Shop of Horrors. It’s a good show, full of catchy tunes, and a solid enough book to carry it between songs. The young cast, most of whom haven’t been seen on the stages of Sydney University before, were full of energy, and the show displayed an impressive polish.
This production was strongest during the musical numbers, which Little Shop fortunately relies upon for much of its story-telling. The leads were supported well by the trio of street urchins, who were snappy with both dialogue and choreography. Their opening number showed promise, but was unfortunately overpowered by the orchestra; unbalanced percussion marred the intelligibility of a number of songs, including the opener and closer. Fortunately this wasn’t an issue during the slower numbers – both ‘Somewhere That’s Green’ and ‘Suddenly Seymour’ allowed the cast’s singing abilities to shine, especially Justine Landis-Hanley’s as Audrey.
Charlie Yeates as Seymour was also fine in song, but less so during the book portions – he played the role with an irritating jitteriness that didn’t really lead anywhere comedically. Fortunately this waned somewhat in the second act, as the play shifts towards the horror end of the comedy-horror spectrum. The show as a whole didn’t quite pull off this shift: we didn’t see Seymour’s sinister complicity played to the fullest, and as is often the case with musicals, it needed more blood. Given the silliness and spectacle of a show with a six-foot carnivorous plant, the violence failed to match the scale of the production.
As brutal dentist Orin Scrivello, Hugh Jameson was powerfully creepy, giving a slow, leering performance. As sexually threatening as it was sadistic, it definitely succeeded in provoking laughter and discomfort, but didn’t really build. The most impressive performer was Nick Jackman as Mushnik, who played the character’s subtler traits of selfishness and weary irritability in a grand, engaging manner.
The show kept its pace up, handled the comedy solidly and the music well. It did a good job of filling the Reginald Theatre’s space with colour and movement, although the occasional placement of cast on the balcony added little. It was a fun show, and hopefully a route for some promising talent to get more involved in the theatre scene.